The Life Doctor

LIFE WOULD be a lot more pleasant if we didn't have to live it in such chronological order. It's so unkind. You start off with all that flexibility, elasticity, energy, brain speed and voracious metabolism and just when you start to realise how good it was, it disappears into the halcyon mist that was your youth.

Do I sound gloomy? Maybe it is because I have reached one of the pointers on life's ageing map: the late twenties crisis. An ageing pointer is that moment when, after years of looking blithely in the mirror, you catch a sudden objective glimpse of yourself and notice change. The first such age shock often happens at 23, when the mirror says, "God, I'm not 18 any more." As you get older the mirror asserts itself more and more often.

The next marker is late twenties angst, when physical changes are compounded by a sense of worry about what hasn't happened in your life. "I'm nearly 30 and I am no more sorted out than I was at 22," says Ruth, 29. "I think I would be more stoic if I weren't single. But I noticed my first cellulite three months ago, something I prided myself on not having."

The challenge is to look better than your contemporaries. Ruth should actually feel pleased that cellulite left her alone for that long. Most of us have some cellulite by 25. It is very useful to know what's normal in the ageing process. You might just find you have been over-critical of yourself.

1) Wrinkles

Surgeon Maurizio Viel who, with his twin brother, Roberto, owns the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery in Harley Street, says fine lines start appearing from 25. "At this stage they can be covered by good make-up. By 29 the fat on your face is beginning to redistribute." Don't con yourself that your cheek bones are more pronounced - everything is beginning to slump downwards.

Some doctors say a wrinkled skin isn't inevitable genetically until our sixties. Environmental factors are more important before that. Sun damage causes up to 90 per cent of visible skin damage. And smoking speeds up the wrinkling process by up to ten years.

Abusing your skin won't show much in your twenties. But soon, says Viel, you can tell the water drinkers from the sun-soaking chain smokers. "By 35 there can be as much as 10 years' difference just from different lifestyles."

2) Fitness

30 is a milestone for athletic performance, when the body loses the edge of its speed. Fortunately, since most of us fail to reach our speed peak anyway, this loss passes unnoticed. Mid-thirties is a crucial time for cardio-vascular fitness. It starts in earnest now and will drop by up to 40 per cent by 65.

3) Grey Hair

34 is the average age that a white person starts developing grey hair. Black people typically start about ten years later. By 50, 50 per cent of people are 50 per cent grey. So if you're 40 and grey-free start feeling smug.

4) Mental Performance

"From the age of 35 short term memory is not as good as it was," says Ronald Klatz, President of the American Academy of Anti-Ageing Medicine in Chicago. "Our mental lists fail, we can't hold as many phone numbers in our heads." But surely after 35 the brain is better in other ways? "Not really," says Dr Klatz, "just more cunning at hiding its inefficiencies."

5) Weight

Metabolism reaches a peak in adolescence. To maintain weight, says Dr Klatz, eat 200 calories less each decade. But it is within the normal range to gain about five pounds with each decade after 20. By 40 there is a dilemma: skinny looks cooler, plumper can look nicer - and younger. "My mother always said women aged in one of two ways," says Meg, 43. "Prune or plum. I am going down the prune route. It means I can still wear fashionable clothes, but I look older than some of my fatter friends close-up, but younger further away."

Sadly, there is only space to cover the early ageing process today. In part two, we will examine muscle wastage, sexual decline, senility and death. Brace yourself.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

    £30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL)

    £30 - 40k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / ...

    Recruitment Genius: ICT Operations Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is the single governing and regul...

    Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufa...

    Day In a Page

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935